As it happened: Northern Ireland 0-2 Germany, Highlights and Analysis

As it happened: Northern Ireland 0-2 Germany, Highlights and Analysis

Germany go top of Group C after seeing off a spirited Northern Ireland side in Euro 2020 qualification.

Chris Lincoln
Good night
That's all from me, Chris Lincoln. Thank you for joining us on a thrilling night of pulsating action.
Tight at the top
Germany go top of Group C on goal difference ahead of Northern Ireland.

Netherlands beat Estonia to move within three points of the number one spot with a game in hand.

If Northern Ireland aren't to qualify, they will certainly have a big say on the final outcome with Germany away and two matches against Netherlands to come.

It could have been worse...
Full-time: Scotland 0-4 Belgium...
A performance to be proud of from Northern Ireland as Germany's quality in front of goal proved to be the difference.

Connor Washington had two better chances than both of the German strikes and a lack of goalscoring threat is undoubtedly a weakness in Michael O'Neill's side.

Full-time: Northern Ireland 0-2 Germany
Germany go top of Group C.
Game Over! Northern Ireland 0-2 GERMANY
It is harsh on Northern Ireland after an incredible effort.

The influential Havertz slips through Gnabry who rolls the ball past Peacock-Farrell to continue his incredible international goalscoring record.

Three minutes added on
Anything left in the tank? Germany are comfortably knocking the ball around.
But Northern Ireland look out on their feet...
One chance...
Germany sub
85' Reus, who has been relatively quiet, is replaced by Emre Can. Defensive.
84' Havertz stretches out a leg on the break to take down an overhit cross before his strike is deflected wide by Lewis.
Northern Ireland sub
83' Shayne Lavery replaces Connor Washington - the departing striker has his head in his hands knowing that he should have been on the scoresheet at least once tonight.
The tempo has softened for the first time in a long while.

Are Northern Ireland starting to fatigue or preparing for one last push?

Tactic Talk
The difference has been made by Gnabry dropping off the front into a number ten role. 

That move has allowed the likes of Klostermann and goalscorer Halstenberg to pull wide and find more room on the flanks.

Dallas and Lewis were all at sea in the first 15 minutes of the second half.

Goal O'Clock
We are coming towards the 75th minute and we all know what that means for Northern Ireland... (see 17:30)
Attacking sub from the hosts
Josh Magennis, Northern Ireland's top goalscorer in this qualification campaign with two goals, replaces midfielder Saville.
Almost the perfect introduction
69' Havertz heads just wide with his first touch of the game!
Germany change
68' Kai Havertz replaces Werner who had a couple of chances either side of the break.
Gnabry booked for trying to steal the ball back too quickly.
63' What a difference Whyte has made!

He bursts down the right before cutting the ball back to Dallas and the Leeds player strikes just wide.

Northern Ireland aren't giving up without a fight!

Penalty appeal!
61' Big drama as Paddy McNair goes down under the attentions of Toni Kroos. The referee looks as if he is about to blow his whistle for a penalty before waving the appeals away.

There was minimal contact, if any.

Northern Ireland change
59' They had to do something - Niall McGinn is replaced by Gavin Whyte.
It feels like, other than the goalkeeper, Northern Ireland haven't touched the ball since Germany scored.
Yet another save!
56' This time it's a whipped free-kick from Reus that is palmed wide by Peacock-Farrell!
Another great save!
53' The counter-attack is immaculate as Marco Reus lays the ball off to Werner whose effort is tipped round the post by Peacock-Farrell.

Germany must have received a rocket from Joachim Low at half-time.

52' Northern Ireland are on the ropes.

Gnabry is running the show and he plays a one-two with Julian Brandt before placing the ball wide from just inside the area.

More chances!
50' Three half chances immediately after the goal for Germany.

Peacock-Farrell makes a save before another defensive block is followed by Klostermann blazing over.

GOAL! Northern Ireland 0-1 GERMANY
48' After all the hard work in the first half, Northern Ireland have been found napping in the second.

This time Klostermann delivers from the right and once again the home full-backs are nowhere to be seen. The ball drops to Marcel Halstenberg who fires home an exquisite half-volley.

Big save!
47' A huge worry for Northern Ireland.

Gnabry is dropping deeper to impact the play and he begins a move that sees Klostermann in acres of room before being kept out by the outstretched arm of Peacock-Farrell.

Here we go...
45 minutes to keep the Germans at bay!
Also in Group C...

Netherlands are narrowly beating Estonia 1-0.

On the other hand...
The atmosphere has been incredible...
Northern Ireland can take confidence from Azerbaijan holding Croatia to a 1-1 draw earlier this evening.
If only...
Washington started his career with St Ives Town in the UCL Premier Division, scoring 74 goals in 94 games...

However, his record since then is 59 goals in 260 games.

33 of those goals came for Peterborough United between 2013 and 2016 and he has only scored 16 goals in 122 matches over the last 3 years...

There should have been at least one more tonight.

Meanwhile, Scotland's qualification hopes are in tatters as they find themselves 3-0 down to Belgium after 45 minutes.
Half-time: Northern Ireland 0-0 Germany
Half the job done and two out of three of the best chances fell to the underdogs!

We have a real game on here.

Both sides look dangerous down their respective right flanks.
Great save!
46' Germany should score!

The ball is played across to Werner with yards of room but Bailey Peacock-Farrell makes a terrific reaction stop to keep the scores level.

So close!
45' Stuart Dallas has been brilliant in the first half and finds more room before firing the ball across the box.

Neuer palms the ball straight to Washington but twice he can't sort his feet out before Neuer jumps on it.

44' Kroos then fires wide with a volley into the ground after Northern Ireland fail to convincingly clear their lines.
Booking for McNair
Paddy McNair leaves one on Toni Kroos who shows his frustrations by reacting angrily to the midfielder.
Tah was dropped after putting through his own net against Netherlands.
Germany substitute
41' Germany forced into an early sub as Matthias Ginter hobbles off, replaced by Jonathan Tah.
Northern Ireland really aren't afraid to go toe-to-toe with Germany.

They aren't just trying to get a foothold back in the game, but also pushing forward with real gusto.

Northern Ireland need to settle back down here.
Chance for Germany
26' ...and from the resulting corner, Niklas Süle could only poke the ball at Peacock-Farrell.
Another penalty appeal
25' Germany are really building now and fantastic football down the right results in Lukas Klostermann touching the ball back to Werner whose strike deflects wide off Cathcart's hand...
...moments later, George Saville throws his face in the way of a venomous strike.
German penalty appeal
21' Northern Ireland dropping deeper as Craig Cathcart and Jonny Evans are both forced into blocks...the latter appearing to be struck in the hand from close range...could have been a penalty...
Many strikers would hide away after missing a golden opportunity early in the game but Conor Washington is chasing down every single ball from the front.
It's taken 15 minutes for Germany to string together a pattern of passes.
The noise is incredible and the passion on the pitch from the men in green is matching that backdrop.
You can definitely tell which team are top of Group C.
Big chance!
7' Northern Ireland should have taken the lead!

Toni Kroos saw his pass out charged down by Corey Evans and the ball fell to Washington with only Manuel Neuer to beat.

However, the veteran goalkeeper was quick off his line and thwarted the striker's effort.

Northern Ireland have also seen plenty of the ball in the opening five minutes, pretty much camped in the German half.

Conor Washington hooked the first shot of the game over.

Early pressing from the hosts. How long can they keep this up for?
More jeers for the Germans in Belfast than Steve Smith at Lord's.
The Windsor Park atmosphere is electric and we are underway!
The European qualifiers have been somewhat low key since the success of the inaugural Nations League tournament.

Is this the contest to reignite the competition? Anything other than a Germany win will certainly set Group C alight...

Incidentally, Northern Ireland have won four but lost three home matches since that last meeting with Germany.

They did defeat South Korea though...

Energy from the hosts
Michael O'Neill has told Sky Sports: 

"We've tried to put as much pace in the team as we can... we are going to have to match them, the key is to stay in the game for as long as possible."

Now is the time...
Very rarely would you see Northern Ireland so optimistic about their chances against Germany.

But since they last played in October 2017, Germany have won just six of their previous 17 games, losing 7 of those.

The likes of Mexico, South Korea and Austria have come away with victories against the football powerhouse.

Key battle: Evans vs Gnabry
Jonny Evans is a vital player for Northern Ireland with over 350 career appearances to his name.

The 31-year old comes up against Arsenal outcast Serge Gnabry who has scored 8 international goals in just 9 games after finding his feet at Bayern Munich. 

Key battle: Lewis vs Werner
Big things are expected of Norwich left-back Jamaal Lewis, although he is yet to really showcase his offensive ability in the Premier League.

A similar talent to Scotland’s Andy Robertson, tonight will be a great test against Timo Werner who has 10 goals in just 26 international matches.

Key battle: Davis vs Kroos
Energy versus technical ability, the midfield battle will be pivotal tonight.

Germany will look to Toni Kroos to pull the strings in midfield as he comes up against Steven Davis who becomes the most capped outfield player in Northern Irish history tonight. 113 not out.

Germany side
Neuer; Ginter, Sule, Halstenberg; Klostermann; Kimmich, Kroos, Brandt; Werner, Reus, Gnabry
Northern Ireland side
Peacock-Farrell; Dallas, Cathcart, Evans, Lewis; McNair, Davis, Saville, Evans, McGinn; Washington
Can Northern Ireland create an upset?
You can catch the match on Sky Sports or follow the action right here on VAVEL UK with our live text commentary!
Dare to Dream
"Massive opportunities"
And O'Neill believes this a great opportunity for Northern Ireland to pounce on a German side who will be without Manchester City midfielder, Ilkay Gundogan.

The Northern Ireland boss told BBC Sport: 

"The four games we have left are massive opportunities.

"I said to the players that they are going to be four of the best games they will play in their international careers.

"We have to aspire to try and do everything to try and split those two nations.

"We are going to have to find a performance above anything this team has found in recent times."

Contrasting form
Northern Ireland were involved in another close game last Thursday but would undoubtedly have been hoping to score more goals against Luxembourg in a friendly at Windsor Park.

Only a disastrous own goal separated the sides, but Germany suffered a 4-2 battering at home to Netherlands...

...a sign of their fall from grace in recent years.

No fear
...and they haven't been blown away by Germany in recent years.

Northern Ireland restricted their opponents to a 1-0 win at Euro 2016 before the Germans secured a double of two-goal margin victories in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.

The late show
With five from seven of Northern Ireland's goals coming in the final 15 minutes or later, they know how to stay in a contest...
Tight defence
However, Northern Ireland find themselves top of Group C on merit.

Way back in March, they defeated Belarus and Estonia, before repeating the feat again in June, scoring at least two goals in three of those matches.

They have only conceded twice thus far.

It means that Northern Ireland still need to play both Germany twice and Netherlands twice.


Northern Ireland to create history?
It's not very often that you would see Northern Ireland topping a European Championship Qualification Group that includes both Germany and Netherlands.

Yet, such is the scheduling of the matches in this campaign, Michael O'Neill's side find themselves with four wins from four matches, three points ahead of Germany and six ahead of Netherlands after the latter defeated the former just three days ago.

Hello and welcome to VAVEL UK’s live text coverage of this international fixture between Northern Ireland and Germany.